Street Movies

(Originally published February 2, 2006)

The world is a stage.  Welcome to Act One.

I rarely go to movies. I’ve gone to one movie over the last 20 years. Living on the streets, you live out about 20 weird movies every week. So the celluloid movies don’t quite make it anymore. The last movie I saw was the Crumb documentary about 10 years ago. And the only reason I went to that one was because I had a vaguely personal connection to it.  (During the scene where Crumb is in his studio as he’s packing up to move to France, you can see on the wall behind his head a copy of the “TELEGRAPH STREET CALENDAR 1991″ that I co-published. I was standing up in the theatre screaming at the screen: “Pan in on the calendar! Get your fat head out of the way, Crumb!”)  (What can I say, I found the scene particular evocative.)

Anyways, last week I was hanging out on a street corner at my 25-cent used books vending table by Cody’s Books. I was sitting on a milk crate, minding my own business (who me?), taping covers back onto torn books, when a “scene” broke out right behind me. This cute young black chick in her car was stopped in the middle of the street.  And she was yelling at a tall, young black guy who was standing in the street, blocking her way. “GET OUT OF THE STREET!” she yelled.



Next thing I knew the black chick is attacking the black guy right in front of me. He’s backing up, trying to fend her off, whipping his jacket at her like a matador. She’s throwing punches. He grabs her by the wrist and they’re swinging each other back and forth. He gets the best of her and flings her in the air like a rag doll into the metal payphone. A very vicious picture in my mind’s eye, as the side of her head crashes into the metal. A few more inches and she would have broken her neck.

She gets up from the sidewalk, mad as a hornet, and pulls a knife out of her pocket. The black guy is backing up like mad, with his palms up to fend her off. And he backs right into my shopping cart full of books parked right next to me, knocks the cart over into the street and he lands on his ass in the middle of the street. She’s still pursuing him and backs him all the way into the middle of the intersection on Telegraph and Haste.


“SHE’S GOT A KNIFE!” yells the black guy.

So the black chick — and cute, I might add, in a young, Diana Ross kinda’ way — walks back towards her car, and spots his black leather jacket lying on the sidewalk. She picks up the jacket, holds it up towards him — in the classic “NEENER NEENEER NEENER!” schoolyard brat tradition — and proceeds to slowly and methodically slice the jacket to ribbons with her knife. And I can tell you, that knife is razor sharp: it slices through that leather jacket like butter.



So the black guy, not to be out-done, shouts out: “OH YEAH?” and runs over to her car — which is still parked in the middle of the street — and starts kicking the shit out of the side of it with his boots. CRASH! CRINKLE! sounds of broken metal and glass.

Suddenly, four cop cars blast to the scene: that surreal, red-lights-flashing-in-the-dark-night scenario. They catch the guy in the middle of the street in mid-kick. So, needless to say, he’s got Some Explaining To Do.

As usual with these weird street movies, you never know how they started, or how they end. You usually just get the 2nd and 3rd act of the drama.

Who knows why people do the crazy things they do? Who knows, and who cares, right? Unless you’re nosey bastard like me and can’t help wondering, What The Fuck?

At first I assumed they didn’t know each other; that perhaps the black guy was standing in the street trying to save the parking space for a friend who was circling around the block in his car.  But then it was pointed out that there was an older white man in the car with the young, cute black chick. So the second possible scenario was that she was a hooker, and perhaps he was a jilted ex-boyfriend. And the third possible scenario was that it was just a bunch of stupid bullshit over nothing (and people on the streets regularly get killed over less).

I ended up re-telling the story at least 10 times to 10 different people — something Exciting Happened! — embellishing the story with each re-telling (“And then she pulled out a switchblade! No, it was a MACHETE!”)

And me? I bought 10 bucks worth of crystal meth and went back to my office and masturbated for 48 hours. What the fuck.



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